Pupils and staff return to Cirencester Deer Park School
After two busy preparation days all staff at Deer Park were delighted to welcome our pupils back to school on Thursday 3 and Friday 4 September 2020, introduce them to our new routines and refocus on their learning. After such a long period out of school, this year is an opportunity for everyone to make a fresh start: we are keen to help our pupils recover any lost ground and provide support and challenge so that they can all thrive and achieve their very best.
I am very impressed by the way in which our pupils have accepted the changes we have made to the structure of our school day and I am especially grateful to them for their cooperation as we all adjust to a new way of learning and working alongside each other.
Chiquita Henson, Headteacher
Pupils in Years 7 and 11 started a day earlier than their peers. This staggered start of the new school year enabled us to offer our new Year 7s a short period of induction on Thursday 3 September, while pupils in Year 11 were able to get a head start, having had some face to face contact with their teachers in June/July to complement their attendance and participation in virtual lessons online throughout the period of lockdown.
Chiquita Henson, Headteacher, and Mrs Hannis, our Year 7 Senior Year Leader, were joined by other senior and pastoral staff to meet and greet pupils in Year 7 at the back of the school before their tutors took them us to their home base on the first floor for registration at 8:45am where they will have most of their lessons. After an initial period of induction their formal lessons began. They made an excellent first impression and teachers and teaching assistants commended them on their maturity and positive mindsets.
'It has been so wonderful to meet our new Year 7 pupils. They arrived on their first day with huge smiles and a keenness to begin their day. The support they gave each other was phenomenal. New friendships have been formed, plans made for contact out of school and an excitement to begin the Deer Park journey. I have to commend these young people on their resilience, their cheerfulness and how utterly brilliant they have all been. Even those who initially felt nervous conquered their fears and embraced the school day.' Mrs Hannis, Senior Year Leader Year 7
At the start of the day on Thursday 3 September, Mr Bellamy, Assistant Head, and Mrs Stubbs, our Year 11 Year Leader, were out the front welcoming Year 11s as they returned for their last year of learning with us. Many were clearly very keen to return to school as they arrived ahead of their scheduled time 8:45am for a 9:00am start. Once settled in their home base (English), pupils in Year 11 received their timetables, a briefing on the changes we have made and our expectations of each other before commencing their formal lessons. Staff were pleased with the way in which they responded to their first lessons and the resilience that so many have shown.
On Friday 4 September, pupils in Years 7 and 11 were joined by pupils in Years 8, 9 and 10. Again staff were out to welcome them and provide directions to their new home bases. While lessons began immediately for pupils in Years 7 and 11, pupils in Years 8, 9 and 11 received a COVID briefing in which their teachers went over the preventative measures we have put in place to help everyone stay safe, including hand and respiratory hygiene, social distancing and staggered breaks and lunch times. Their lessons formally commenced from Lesson 2.
Pupils in Year 7 were not the only new faces at Deer Park this week. We also welcomed pupils in other year groups who have moved into the area or chosen to change schools. They had the opportunity to meet with their Year Leaders on arrival and be introduced to a ‘buddy’.
'My first lesson was with a Year 9 RP class in a Science laboratory which was strange. However, it was great to be back in the classroom surrounded by pupils who were both engaged and enthusiastic. The starter was a re-cap of the work that they had covered in the Summer Term via MS Teams and I was very impressed with their ability to answer the questions after the six week break. The key difference as a teacher was remembering to stay at the front of the room which is definitely not natural!' Miss Hope, Head of Ethics and Computing
'It was wonderful to see our pupils again and I enjoyed meeting my delightful new Year 7 class. They all seemed very happy to be back in the classroom and especially keen to be learning something new. I was really impressed by how much pupils remembered about texts they'd studied, both from their MS Teams lessons and in lessons prior to the lockdown.' Mrs Davies, Head of English
'Coming back after such an extended period out was quite a shock to the system, but it was immensely encouraging to see how quickly the pupils adapted to the new routine and the resilience that they have shown as we adjust to the new 'normal'. The new system has certainly improved my step counter through the day!' Mr Scarrott, Languages Teacher
Over the next fortnight pupils will follow their new timetables and as they do so, many will be introduced to our new teachers. We are pleased to welcome Mr Clutterbuck, as Deputy Headteacher, who will be joining the school for a year, and the following new teachers: Mrs Brand and Mrs Guy in Maths, Mrs Chaplin in English, Miss Clark in Science and Miss Blacker in PE.
‘I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone at Deer Park. My son was very unsure about going to secondary school, but came home and couldn't stop talking about his day. He absolutely loved his 1st day!’ Year 7 parent
‘As a parent of two pupils at the school, I have been impressed with the experience they have had since joining Deer Park, and having worked with the Corinium Education Trust and Deer Park in a consultancy capacity last academic year, I am equally impressed by the way the school works to create the experiences from which both my children are benefitting; Deer Park is clearly ambitious for every member of its learning community, so when the opportunity to join the school as a member of the senior team arose, it was too good to pass up. I am delighted to be a member of staff and look forward to helping our pupils be the best they can be every day.’ Richard Clutterbuck, Deputy Head
‘Thank you so much for making our daughter feel so welcome and comfortable starting Deer Park today! Mr Clutterbuck made a great first impression helping her in: he wouldn’t have known she was the only person coming from her tiny Primary school and that she was desperately anxious about starting today - despite her brave face - and so the little kindnesses shown to her made her buzz by the time I picked her up! She had the very best start to her time at Deer Park and I can’t tell you how much that means!’ Year 7 parent
A final word from one of our Maths teachers, Mr Ellen:
'I think it is great to see everyone back in school, pupils and colleagues, rather than virtually, and it feels like the Deer Park 'buzz' has returned again filling the semi abandoned buildings of March. Of course there is change. Change because we have to, to keep everyone safe, but changes to faces as pupils and colleagues have left or moved on, new faces join us or suddenly the children that were only up to your shoulder in March now tower over you!
The new ways of working affect everyone, in every class and our routines and procedures throughout the day. I have found the need to be even more organised than before, with a day wandering the different 'bubbles', meaning there is very little time to come back to the maths base and having to carry equipment like some sort of mathematical snail! Things are not perfect, Maths in a science lab, not all of the equipment doing what you want it to do, and perhaps teaching a topic not quite in the way you may have done previously, but you learn to think on your feet, make changes where and when you have to and at the end of the day you have to get on with things because the pupils’ learning and progress are the most important things.
Returning to some sense of normality re-purposes the staff, refocuses the children and helps all of our wellbeing. It is business, but business as 'new normal'. '